Building Quality Homes Since 1988

Hose Bibs

The Importance of Disconnecting Your Outside Hoses during Freezing Temperatures

Most homes constructed in the last 25 years in cold climate regions will have what is known as no frost hose bibs for exterior water service. These no frost hose bibs saved homeowners from having to remember to shut off an interior water line valve that connected to the outside hose bibs and ensure the water was drained or blown out on the cold side. On a frost free hose bib, the valve is simply moved back into the warm side of the hose bib rather than at the front (cold side). As long as the wall penetration is properly air sealed and insulated around the hose bib, there is almost no chance of water freezing and rupturing the faucet because the faucet is designed to self-drain every time the valve is closed.

Hose bib

When a garden hose is attached to a hose bib, it can prevent the faucet from allowing that critical process of self-draining to occur. The standing water will remain on the cold side of the valve and will freeze. When water freezes, it expands and typically ruptures the long tube between the shut off valve and the main body of the faucet.

ruptured hose bib

Remember that the long tube portion of that hose bib is typically located in a floor joist cavity in your basement ceiling. If you turn on the valve of a ruptured hose bib, the water will now drain out of the rupture point in the tube. If you have a developed basement with a drywall ceiling, the water will be filling up that ceiling cavity and finding its way down the wall in between the vapour barrier and the back side of the drywall. You may not even know this is happening until it is too late and the damage is done.
If you have left your garden hose attached to a hose bib during freezing temperatures, DO NOT OPEN THE VALVE. Call a plumber and have the hose bib replaced.
Make sure that either you or the plumber ensures that there is a good air seal and good continuous insulation around the new hose bib inside the house. Application of a small bead of low expansion canned spray foam around the inside of the penetration to air seal and a waterproof caulking on the outside of the penetration to prevent moisture infiltration is a good method.
If the hose bib was left open and the hose or accessory that was left connected to the hose bib has ruptured and leaked on the exterior of the house as seen here, chances are that your hose bib has still frozen.

foundation leak

There will be an added concern with the ice buildup and hydrostatic pressure on the foundation. Check for any leaks on your foundation wall as well in the spring.

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